Gin is not only Edinburgh’s spirit du jour; an enthusiasm for the drink seems to have spread right across Scotland. There are now distilleries producing gin in Shetland (Shetland Reel), Caithness (Rock Rose), Speyside (Caorunn), Ayrshire (Hendrick’s), Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Pickering’s) and elsewhere. The capital is also blessed with more than a few decent places to sample various brands of mother’s ruin - in addition to the following purveyors, we'd also recommend sampling it at some of Edinburgh's best cocktail bars (or visiting one of the city's best bars in general).
Edinburgh's best gin bars
There has been a café-bar on site since the 1990s but after a couple of name changes the premises settled down as 56 North back in 2008. These days gin is their unique selling point so the venue stocks types of Genever, Old Tom, barrel-aged gin and more brands than you thought existed. They also do gin masterclasses and a pop-up festival gin garden in August.
‘Bar? Mini-distillery? Ah, let’s have both.’ In a city centre basement, this dapper venue made its debut in 2014. Edinburgh Gin is made here, there is a wide selection of inventive gin-based cocktails although the range of brands is not as extensive as you’d find elsewhere. Heads & Tales also does a nice line in bar bites.
A 2015 opening, with gimmicky ‘distressed Victoriana’ décor, this café-bar stocks over 60 brands of gin and the staff do actually know what they’re talking about. It offers a high-class pub grub menu, windows opening wide to the street and those excellent gins; it’s a great place for a refreshing summer G&T.
A plush hotel cocktail bar with nice views to the Old Town, Juniper appeared in 2013. It doesn’t sell itself exclusively as a gin bar but gin stars in its excellent drinks list from the simplicity of gin with a good mixer (Ophir and Fever-Tree Ginger Ale) to the inventiveness of its classic Juniper cocktail (Edinburgh Elderflower Gin, citrus vodka, orgeat syrup, kiwi, apple juice, lemon, and apple foam).
As an international hotel chain, Sheraton hardly needs an introduction. The contemporary bar-restaurant at its Edinburgh hotel however is the colourful One Square. The bar sets itself apart with an enormous range of gins – over 60 – including a bespoke One Square Gin made with the help of local distillery, Pickering’s. One Square also offers gin tastings.
Occupying just part of the University of Edinburgh’s former veterinary school, the Royal Dick bar has neighbours on site that include a multifaceted arts centre (Summerhall), a craft brewery (Barney’s) and a gin distillery (Pickering’s). Although the Royal Dick – named for the old vet school – is no gin specialist it is unique because a pipe from distillery to bar means you can get Pickering’s Gin here on draught.